To effectively defend and attack, you must have sharp reflexes (quick reaction time). Reflexes may be developed through repetitious training. Through proper training, an action may become almost instinctive and happen without conscious thought. Reflexes depend on the nervous system of the body.
The nervous system detects a need to react and provides stimulus to the muscles.
These nerves involve the five senses: sight, touch, taste, hearing, and smell. They provide information to the brain so it knows what action is required. Sometimes the information is intercepted in the spine and sent directly to the muscles (instinctive action).
Some people also believe that there is exists a “Sixth Sense” that involves a heightened mental state but this is speculation. However, there are three more senses that some think should be added to the original five: balance, proprioception, and direction. Ways to use these senses in Taekwondo:
- Sight. Watch for movements of opponent to try to assess when and how he or she will move. Watch yourself for errors as you perform, especially while in front of a mirror. Sight affects our senses of balance and direction as well.
- Hearing. Hear movement of opponent’s feet shuffling or breath getting heavy when attack is imminent. Listen for the command to begin fighting if you react quicker than the opponent you may score.
- Touch. Useful when in close contact with opponent, particularly during wrestling or ground-fighting. Use touch to gage power of opponent's techniques.
- Smell. Use to detect odor of alcoholic beverage or other drugs.
- Taste. What is that liquid on my lip? Is it blood or sweat?
- Proprioception. Awareness of how much tension is in the muscles. Lets you sense the amount of force you are receiving or are applying.
- Balance. Used when stepping, shifting, or kicking.
- Direction. The sense of direction, in combination with several others of the abovementioned senses; it allows you to orient yourself.
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